Developing Palliative Medicine as an Accredited Medical Specialty in Kenya

Hussein Elias, Lindsay A. Dow, Juli Boit, Chite F. Asirwa, Kenneth Cornetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSEMost people living with life-limiting illnesses in Kenya lack access to palliative care. Globally, palliative medicine is a growing specialty that equips clinicians with the training required to improve the quality of life for people living with a wide variety of serious illnesses. Optimal delivery relies on a skilled workforce with specialty-level training, and we identified the absence of board-Accredited training programs for clinical officers (COs) and physicians as a barrier to providing high-quality palliative care in Kenya.METHODSWe held a series of stakeholder meetings with expert palliative care clinicians, leaders, and educators from Kenya and other countries to develop and implement a comprehensive, evidence-based palliative medicine curriculum for COs.RESULTSWe developed a higher diploma program that is being administered by the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital College in Eldoret, Kenya, with faculty from Moi University School of Medicine and affiliated institutions. We have collaborated to create the first diploma awarding program in palliative medicine in Kenya. Our efforts have led the Kenyan CO Council adding palliative medicine to their list of recognized and licensed specialties. COs are now enrolled in an 18-month program that will lead to a higher diploma and national recognition as palliative care specialists.CONCLUSIONEarly building of consensus and educating policymakers, regulatory bodies, and government personnel was an important step to overcome the challenge of palliative care misconceptions. The unique capacity of global partnerships and early and frequent stakeholder involvement is critical in novel program development. Local ownership of such in-country programs is key, and the stakeholders should be included in strategies for sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2200025
JournalJCO Global Oncology
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


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